Amish case seen as proving prevailing wage is buggy
In lllinois, there's no such thing as free labor.
An Amish group that offered to tear down scrap wood from a Bartonville building project in exchange for keeping the wood ended up walking away with nothing, while the building owner had to pay prevailing wage to get the work done.
“I think it’s really illustrative of how some laws in Illinois are so weird and they prevent good things from happening," Michael Lucci, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, told the Sangamon Sun.
Lucci was talking about the Bowen building project and Illinois' prevailing wage law, which requires subcontractors and contractors to pay workers, mechanics, and laborers employed on all public works construction projects a preset minimum wage. The pay is based on the hourly cash wages plus fringe benefits for similar work in the county for which the work is to be performed.
"The case involving the Amish laborers and the Bowen building project serves as the perfect example: The Amish group agreed to remove the wood for free if they could keep it; Illinois law says you cannot do that,” Lucci said.
Lucci focuses on economic growth and regulatory issues such as prevailing wage. The institute says it supports policies to make Illinois a more economically free, dynamic and vibrant state.
“That’s what keeps the people here, and attracts others," Lucci said. "It’s what makes us all have a happier life, higher wages and more job opportunities.”
But he said laws such as prevailing wage kill entrepreneurial spirit.
"Entrepreneurs bring about a dynamism and innovative ways of doing things," Lucci said. "We should want as many entrepreneurs as possible in all parts of the state of Illinois. The entrepreneur serves to provide value to the taxpayer, and we should legalize entrepreneurship by getting rid of the Prevailing Wage Law.”
Lucci also argued that prevailing wage came about as a form of racial bias.
“There is substantial research to prove that the PV law expresses a racial favoritism, and the original purpose of the law was to make it harder for minority contractors to compete,” Lucci said. “We should review laws like this that have a wildly shady past and why there were enacted.”